I can proudly say I have never gotten sucked into playing Farmville — but I did, for some reason, get addicted to playing Zoo on Facebook for a few months. If you’ve gotten obsessed with raising virtual chickens or feeding virtual pandas on Facebook, there’s now help for you. You can protect real, live animals, like my favorites, Atlantic puffins — without leaving Facebook!

How so? World Wildlife Fund has put its gift catalog on Facebook! To adopt a real animal, just click over to pick from more than 100 species. (I recommend the puffin!)

Lest any MNN readers mistakenly think WWF is capturing wild animals and sending them to an adopter’s home, rest assured the adoptions are symbolic. The money you spend to “adopt” doesn’t get you a real animal to call your own. The money goes towards funding WWF’s work to protect wildlife. That’s why the cost of adopting a cute little puffin is the same as adopting larger, less cute animals! After all, the small plush versions of the adopted animals that donators receive are about the same size.

And in fact, the adoption fees are on a sliding scale of sorts. You can pay as much as $250 to “adopt” a family of sea turtles — or as little as $25 to "adopt" a very cute puffin. The amount you spend affects the amount of cute WWF schwag* you get — and less selfishly, the work WWF is able to do. (*Plush animals, among which the puffin is the cutest, only come with a $50 donation or more) 

Now, while I love that WWF has made symbolic wildlife adoptions easier for Facebook addicts, I wish there was a way to make these adoptions into a sort of game — basically by offering not just plush versions of wildlife but also virtual versions of the creatures. I mean, judging from the popularity of Farmville, it seems many people who might not want to plunk down $25 for a symbolic puffin adoption might make microdonations over time to adopt virtual puffin families to care for — donations that could add up to $25 relatively quickly….

No such game is available as of yet, but WWF said in a press release that it plans to launch an online quiz called “Find Your Inner Animal.” (I hope I’m a puffin!) You can also “friend” animals — so far, it's a puffin-less shortlist limited to tigers, pandas, polar bears — and you'll get updates on WWF’s conservation work related to the creature.

MNN homepage photo: muffytyrone/Flickr

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